4-year river restoration project to start Monday

Published: Sunday, Jun. 23, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2B
Last Modified: Sunday, Jun. 23, 2013 - 8:37 am

The U.S. Forest Service will begin work Monday on a project to restore the Upper Truckee River in South Lake Tahoe.

The work will include construction of a temporary bridge, around which boaters will need to carry their vessels approximately 75 feet, as well as the closure of 25 acres of surrounding meadows for public safety.

This first phase of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit's river restoration project is expected to be completed on or before Oct. 15, when the bridge will be removed.

The project site is east of the Lake Tahoe Airport in the Tahoe Paradise residential area, south of the South Lake Tahoe city limits.

Nets for fish protection will be placed in the river on both sides of the bridge site while it is being constructed through Friday, so boaters will need to portage their vessels beginning Monday. Passage under the bridge will not be possible.

The bridge site is approximately 5,000 feet downstream from the Highway 50 and Elks Club Drive intersection – a popular place to enter the river for rafting and kayaking, said restoration hydrologist Theresa Cody, who is leading the project.

"The boating season does not typically extend beyond July, particularly in a low-flow year like this one, so we anticipate that this will only affect boaters for the first few weeks that the bridge is in place," Cody said.

The project will also involve a closure area of approximately 25 acres of surrounding meadows from July 1 to Oct. 15. The boundary of the area will be marked with orange fencing along an access road.

Access road construction and boundary fencing installation will begin July 1, after the bridge is installed.

Once these structures are in place, construction of a new river channel will begin. Approximately 7,400 feet of new channel will be constructed in two phases over a period of four years.

The goal of the project is to replace the existing channel with one that is more stable and is connected to the adjacent floodplain, providing a better aquatic habitat and healthier meadow ecosystem and reducing the amount of fine sediment that reaches Lake Tahoe.

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Read more articles by Barbara Barte Osborn

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